Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lilies are plants that are prized for their beautiful and fragrant flowers. Lily of the Valley has broad leaves with small, fragrant bell-shaped flowers. This very elegant sweet-scented indigenous perennial is not reckoned among the lily tribe. Early in the spring the rhizomes send up small, thin shoots.

First, two leaves unfurl one within the other. One leaf is always bigger than the other, and at the back of the leaves, in the same sheath, there is a flower stalk. The flowers begin greenish, and as the open, they hang downward like pure white fairy bells with six scallops.

Lily of the Valley
Traditionally sold on the streets of France on May 1, its French name is muget de bois. It is also called May Lily, Ladder to Heaven and Our Lady’s tears (because legend has it that where the tears Mary cried at the crucifixion fell on the ground, lilies of the Valley grew).

The plant is eaten by sheep and goats, but refused by cows, horses and swine. The flowers when dried have a narcotic scent, and of reduced to powder excite sneezing; hence they are sometimes used as a sternutatory.

Lilies of the Valley are native to Europe but are distributed throughout North America and Asia.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

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